Week 5 Rushing Matchups

by Justin Howe, Devin Knotts, and Keith Roberts, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Passing Matchups

Great Matchups: [CIN] [IND]
Good Matchups: [ARI] [DAL] [HOU] [KC] [LAC] [NE] [PIT]
Neutral Matchups: [BAL] [CAR] [CHI] [DEN] [GB] [MIN] [SF] [TEN]
Tough Matchups: [ATL] [BUF] [CLE] [JAX] [LAR] [NYG] [PHI] [SEA] [WAS]
Bad Matchups: [NO] [NYJ] [OAK] [TB]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Tom Brady is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Cincinnati's rushing attack has struggled to get anything going thus far in 2019, in large part thanks to one of the league's weakest offensive lines. Joe Mixon has handled the bulk of the rushing duties for Cincinnati, with Giovani Bernard spelling him on passing-downs, but neither back has been able to find any room to run. Head coach and play-caller Zac Taylor has yet to find the proper balance between rushing and passing plays in 2019, and the lack of rhythm in the Bengals offense is startling. The Bengals elected to run the ball in countless 2nd and long situations in week four against the Steelers, and they had very little success doing so. These are typically the worst situations for an offense to run the ball in, and Cincinnati's insistence upon trying to run the ball here, however ineffectively, is cause for concern. On the season, Joe Mixon averages just over 3.1 yards-per-carry and has yet to eclipse 62-yards in any single game. Week five against the Arizona Cardinals is an excellent opportunity for Mixon to get on track against one of the league's weakest run defenses.

Over the past two weeks, the Arizona Cardinals have allowed starting running backs to compile over 250 yards rushing on over 5 yards-per-carry. The individual pieces on Arizona's defense are capable of defending the run, but the wear and tear of being on the field so often with the team's fast-paced offense on the other side of the ball is seemingly taking a toll on their production. Through four games, the Cardinals defense ranks in the bottom ten of the NFL in yards-per-carry allowed, total rushing attempts faced, total rushing yards allowed, and total defensive snaps played. In the trenches, Corey Peters stands out as the team's best run defender, but even he has only registered four stops on the season so far. While linebacker appears to be a significant weakness for the Cardinals defensively, D.J. Swearinger is a safety whose focus and talent is predicated around stopping the run. Swearinger may be a liability in coverage duties, but he is one of the most physical safeties in the NFL, and he has long been one of the NFL's best run-stoppers from the secondary. While Cincinnati does not field a strong rushing attack, the Bengals will likely look to establish the run early in the game for the first time this season in a very winnable home game against another winless opponent.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Without question, the Colts backfield belongs - when he’s healthy - to Marlon Mack. The third-year back isn’t the league’s fastest or most powerful runner. But he moves quickly and with purpose, capitalizing on the Colts’ dominant run-blocking to create big gains. A great cutter with burst, he’s an ideal fit for the team’s outside-zone attack. Still, Mack has trended down since his explosive 174-yard opener. He’s run for 164 in 3 games since, at just 3.5 yards per attempt, despite some relatively soft matchups. Mack is at his clear-cut best when the Colts are in positive game script, grinding down tired run defenses. There’s a bit of injury concern entering Week 5: Mack left during last week’s fourth quarter with an ankle tweak and didn’t return. Still, coach Frank Reich made clear this week that Mack wasn’t ruled out medically, and that he would have returned had the Colts not been forced into hurry-up mode. Mack looks like a safe bet to suit up Sunday, and if he does, he’ll find himself in perhaps his best matchup of the young season. The Colts’ strong line, led by guard Quenton Nelson and ascending right tackle Braden Smith, holds a sizeable advantage over the Chiefs’ pass-oriented front. If his ankle his sound, Mack should find plenty of room up front, and wide lanes escorting him onto the second level.

The Chiefs continue to field one of football’s weakest and most exploitable run defenses. They’ve allowed 99 yards or more to the opposing lead runner in 3 straight games, and that doesn’t even tell the whole tale. Even one-gear runners Leonard Fournette (13 for 66) and Gus Edwards (7 for 53) have had no trouble finding efficiency in this matchup. Last week, it was Kerryon Johnson’s turn to snap out of his early-year slump, posting his first 100-yard game thus far. This front seven is built first and foremost to defend the pass, and as a result, lacks some of the key components of a run-stopping unit. Chris Jones is a dominant pass-rushing tackle, but Derrick Nnadi and Xavier Williams are miscast on the nose. Top linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are subpar in pursuit, while Tyrann Mathieu, who was brought to town in part as an in-the-box hybrid, has underwhelmed. All told, there are numerous holes here for opposing ground games to exploit. Even when game script and flow go the Chiefs’ way, there’s ample opportunity for backs to produce efficiently with what they’re given.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Arizona Cardinals have struggled mightily to establish any type of running game during the first four games of the Kliff Kingsbury era. David Johnson is clearly the team's bell-cow running back, handling nearly 90-percent of the snaps in 3 out of the 4 games this season. Johnson has been unable to build any momentum on the ground aside from week one against the Detroit Lions when he ran for 82 yards on the day. His second-highest rushing total on the season was last week's meager 40-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks. The game scripts for the Cardinals have not favored a run-heavy approach by any means to start the season. Kingsbury was expected to call a pass-heavy offense regardless, but the scoreboard has frequently dictated an even more pass-heavy approach than even he could have planned. Johnson has had his work cut out for him on the ground running behind one of the league's weakest run-blocking offensive lines. A matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, however, may help boost Arizona's numbers on the ground, as this is their best matchup to date in 2019.

Cincinnati's run defense starts up-front with their two big bodies on the defensive line. Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings have continued their dominance on the interior of the defensive line in 2019, but behind them, the run-stopping effort has been lackluster. Week two especially highlighted Cincinnati's shortcomings defending the run. The Bengals allowed the 49ers to run for 259 yards on 37 carries, good enough for 7 yards-per-carry on the day. Since then, the Bengals allowed an aging Frank Gore to total 76 rushing yards on just 14 carries in week three. Last week, on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers' running backs only totaled 68 rushing yards on the day, but that neglects the handful of jet sweep passes that consistently gashed Cincinnati's defense as an extension of the running game. Arizona's ability to get to the second level will be essential to an effective ground game in week five, as Cincinnati's linebacking corps is especially weak. Nick Vigil and Preston Brown, Cincinnati's two primary linebackers, both rank as well below-average run-stoppers. Week five against the Cincinnati Bengals, a potentially winnable game for Arizona, presents the best opportunity for David Johnson to get going thus far in the 2019 season.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ezekiel Elliott is back into a full complement of snaps. Last Sunday night, he took on 56 of the Cowboys’ 58 offensive snaps and every single running back touch. That dominant usage gives him a high floor, and his effectiveness lends one of fantasy’s most dynamic ceilings. Even after last week’s dud in New Orleans, he’s topped 75 yards in 10 of his last 13 games (playoffs included), averaging a robust 4.6 per rush along the way. If there’s a touch of gray on Elliott, it’s the fact that he’s not a particularly good short-yardage runner. That’s why he’s run for just 16 touchdowns over his last 29 games despite dominating a successful offense. The Cowboys tend to use Dak Prescott on the goal line; he’s simply more effective from there. Still, Elliott is never to be questioned as a matchup-proof fantasy play. The Saints won the battle Sunday night, but he boasts a three-year resume of churning through strong matchups in his own right. He still finds himself working behind one of the league’s best run-blocking lines, currently ranked third by Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti. Star left tackle Tyron Smith seems unlikely to suit up, but there are still maulers up and down the Dallas front. All told, Elliott may be the most predictably strong runner in fantasy football, and he measures up beautifully against a ho-hum Packers squad.

The Packers rank 26th in run defense, but this unit is likely better than that mark suggests. They’ve been rolled over by quality run games in three of four weeks, with last Thursday’s performance the most egregious. Both Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders got on track, combining to run for 159 yards on 26 carries (with 2 touchdowns) and thoroughly ice the Eagles win. Still, this unit has enough solid pieces in place to rebound. Prior to Thursday, apart from a single 75-yard run by Dalvin Cook, they’d allowed running backs just 4.0 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. They boast a solid interior, with Kenny Clark at tackle and linebacker Blake Martinez captaining in the middle. Clark will make for the toughest test of the young season for Cowboys blockers Travis Frederick and Connor Williams. And Martinez keeps flying under the radar as one of the few off-ball linebackers to make a consistent impact against the run. Stronger days could be coming, but there’s no reason to fear or avoid this matchup at the moment. That’s especially true with the Cowboys’ elite line - even without Tyron Smith - next on the docket.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Carlos Hyde is showing that there is still some talent left in him even though he is on his fifth team in just a little over two seasons. Hyde is averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry on the season and while he is not seeing the volume that is leading to massive games, he is effective in this offense when called upon to move the ball with downhill one-cut running. Duke Johnson has served as a nice complimentary change of pace role to Hyde as while he has just 23 carries on the season, three of those have gone for 19 yards or more. The good news for this rushing attack is that the rebuilt offensive line is starting to play better after struggling for the first few weeks. Laremy Tunsil looks more confident after being traded from Miami and center Nick Martin is starting to develop in his third season with the team.

The Falcons rush defense continues the trend that they have had for the past few seasons in that they are struggling to stop the run. Up the middle, the Falcons are as solid as any team with Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle and Deion Jones at middle linebacker, but the problem is on the outside linebackers and at safety to prevent the big play. Things became even worse for the Falcons in Week 3 as Keanu Neal tore his Achilles and is out for the remainder of the season which is a big impact to the running game as Neal is a tackling machine at the safety position and someone that the Falcons looked to help stop the run. So far this season, the Falcons have allowed three running backs to rush for over 70 yards with Marlon Mack rushing for 74, Derrick Henry for 100, and Dalvin Cook for 111. This is a unit that last week shifted to a base Nickel defense which puts an added emphasis on linebacker De’Vondre Campbell as they only have two linebackers on the field in this formation. Expect the Texans to be able to run the ball away from Grady Jarrett with both Hyde and Duke Johnson in this game.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Week to week, this Kansas City offense looks capable of turning virtually any back into a major contributor. With Damien Williams sidelined by a knee injury, LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams are producing beyond expectations, even in this potent attack. Over the last 2 weeks, the duo has combined to produce 185 yards on their 36 attempts. McCoy is handling most of the ground work, and he’s enjoying a late-career renaissance, averaging 5.4 yards per rush on his own. He’s run roughshod over 3 quality run defenses in Jacksonville (10 for 81), Baltimore (8 for 54 and a touchdown), and now Detroit (11 for 56 and 1). It’s worth noting, however, that the 31-year-old’s role faded noticeably in the second half last week. Darrel Williams took on the bulk of rushing duties down the stretch, and while he wasn’t nearly as effective as the week before, he did punch in two short touchdowns. Both benefit from the wide-open nature of the Chiefs offense, which creates lots of daylight for its runners, and also from a solid run-blocking line. Damien Williams is questionable for Week 5, and if he sits, a similar distribution would likely be used. McCoy and Darrel Williams are candidates to run efficiently - and see ample touchdown opportunity - in any potential game script.

After a promising 2018, the Colts defense has struggled mightily to open the new season. That’s manifested most thus far on the ground, with opposing backs averaging 5.0 yards per attempt and 103 per game. The last 3 lead backs they’ve faced - Derrick Henry, Devonta Freeman, and Josh Jacobs - have all topped 79 yards despite middling volume. The problems start up front, where undersized nose tackle Margus Hunt simply doesn’t appear built to anchor against the run. He and Denico Autry are serviceable inside, though neither keeps much blocking off of the linebackers, who have opened the year poorly. Anthony Walker has been a particular liability, but even Darius Leonard, who was perhaps the best off-ball linebacker in football as a rookie, has been exploited plenty in his own right. Leonard missed the last two weeks while in the concussion protocol; his slow start aside, the team desperately needs him back on the field. Rookie Bobby Okereke was nearly invisible in his place Sunday.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Austin Ekeler continued to ball out last week despite the recent news of Melvin Gordon re-joining the team. While most of Ekeler’s value has been (and will be moving forward) through the air, he saw a season-high 18 carries for 60 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. Moving into Week 5, this backfield will be very much shaken up with the return of Melvin Gordon. Austin Ekeler will certainly retain a significant role in this backfield, but it will be as a pass-catcher rather than a consistent contributor on the ground and near the goal line. Melvin Gordon is expected to immediately slot back in as the lead running back. Gordon could have some rust from his four-week holdout, but he is coming off an impressive 2018 campaign in which Gordon averaged 5.1 rushing yards per carry with 10 rushing touchdowns in just 12 games played. Gordon should be in decent shape running behind an average offensive line, but the Broncos did lose blocking tight end Sean Culkin for the season last week and remain without left tackle Russell Okung for the foreseeable future.

While the Broncos turned things around last week from a pass-rushing perspective, they went far, far in the opposite direction in the run defense department. This group was embarrassed as Leonard Fournette tallied 225 rushing yards on the shoulders of a heavy workload that ultimately wore this group down in the second half. It was encouraging to see Derek Wolfe on the field after his Week 3 injury, but he did not play well alongside the rest of these struggling Broncos defensive tackles. Linebacker Todd Davis had a decent game and made some nice tackles, but he was the only player close to a standout in run defense. Prior to last week, the Broncos had been at decent against the run from a yardage perspective. This defensive line has talent, but it is tough to write off what they displayed from last week. Adding injury to the insult, they will also not be without Bradley Chubb after he went down with a season-ending knee injury. With minimal depth behind Chubb, this will be a tough hole to fill. The Chargers should give Melvin Gordon a warm welcome back with a heavy workload to test this reeling run defense.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

While the Patriots did look better rushing the ball against the Bills last week, they still have a long way to go to be considered a consistent unit. This offense as a whole continues to struggle as they are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry which is the fifth-worst in the NFL and Sony Michel is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. The biggest problem for this rushing offense continues to the be the offensive line as it has not yet been able to find the cohesion to overcome the injuries that they have sustained in center David Andrews, tackle Isaiah Wynn and backup tackle Yodny Cajuste. Marcus Cannon has played the last two weeks after suffering a shoulder injury but has not played at the elite level that we are used to seeing from the right tackle. Right guard Shaq Mason continues to struggle after playing at an elite level over the past three seasons. This will be a unit that will need to improve as Sony Michel is a downhill straight forward runner who is going to rely on his offensive line to create the path.

Last week, the Giants came right at the Redskins rushing attack with a combination of Wayne Gallman and Jon Hillman and for the most part, the Redskins held their own holding the Giants combination to 96 yards on 28 carries. This was a significant improvement for a unit that had struggled at defending David Montgomery and Ezekiel Elliott the two weeks prior, but a big reason for the improvement was Jonathan Allen who was injured in week 1 and missed week 2 and is a significant factor on this defense in stopping the run alongside Da’Ron Payne. The Redskins are a team in which if you can get past their defensive line, you are going to have success as their linebacking play is extremely poor in Jon Bostic and rookie Cole Holcomb who was a fifth-round pick out of North Carolina has struggled in run defense. Look for the Patriots to try to run north-south with Sony Michel to test this linebacking group early in this game.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Despite a slow start to the year (just 3.2 yards per rush and 35 a game thus far), James Conner is again leading the Pittsburgh ground game with power and purpose. He looked healthy and a little dynamic Monday night, particularly on a 21-yard second-half run that carved through all levels of the defense. But if Week 3 was any indication, Jaylen Samuels’ role as his backfield mate is about to skyrocket. As the team searched high and low for dynamism in Ben Roethlisberger’s absence, Samuels took a number of wildcat snaps en route to a season-high 10 carries. The novelty didn’t always work, and Samuels only managed 26 yards, but he did post an impressive 13-yard run and a short touchdown. He’s not the same rugged, determined type of runner as Conner, but brings more burst and open-field elusiveness. Regardless of their split, both will continue to benefit from working behind the Steelers’ elite front line. Guard David DeCastro and center Maurkice Pouncey are still among the best in the business, capable of both locking down the point of attack and reaching the second level to open up big runs.

Last season, the Ravens boasted one of the league’s stoutest run defenses. But it’s undergone a lot of transformation, and there are suddenly cracks showing. They opened the year by stifling two weak attacks, but have been rolled over by two more potent ones since. In Week 3, the Chiefs’ wide-open offense had no trouble moving on the ground (5.9 yards per rush). And there’s no getting around Nick Chubb’s dominance last Sunday; he gouged this group for 165 yards, exposing a major Baltimore weakness against cutback runners. Two of his three touchdowns came off the hip of against-the-grain blocking, with the Ravens’ young linebackers washed right out of the lane. The front line remains strong, with Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce tying up blockers consistently. But with C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs gone, the edge and second level are a work in progress. The unit certainly misses Mosley as captain and play-caller in the middle. All in all, this run defense can’t yet be looked at as a strict liability. There’s still a strong scheme in place and playmaking depth up front. But the days of dodging this matchup in fantasy are likely over, or at best, in transition.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Ravens continue to field one of football’s most efficient - and often dominant - run games. After all, this is an offense built first and foremost to grind away with a versatile rushing attack. Six-time All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda and a pair of rising-star tackles lead a line that’s adept in both the power and spread games. The Ravens rotate their runners regularly, with 3 players already north of 30 attempts. But they churn out plenty of volume to support Mark Ingram as a fantasy RB2, while still adding a ton of value to quarterback Lamar Jackson. Ingram has proven a strong fit in Baltimore as a creative inside runner; he’s averaged 6.0 yards over his 55 attempts and found the end zone 5 times. He’s a bit touchdown-dependent in fantasy, but can always be projected for an efficient day and strong rushing upside. For his part, Jackson (6.6 yards per rush, 60 per game) looks just as electric as he did last season. The team has cut down on his called runs but still relies on his instincts to make plays on the ground. Behind them, Gus Edwards sees consistent work as the offense’s pure power element, and he’s effective, if low-impact, in the role (4.5 per rush).

The Pittsburgh run defense still boasts a bit of a dominant reputation but has been tailing off markedly for quite some time. They remain strong against powerful inside runners, like Sony Michel (15 rushes for 14 yards) and Chris Carson (15 for 60). But quicker backs, capable of exploding off of a cutback and finding daylight, still give them fits on the second level. In early matchups, the combination of Rex Burkhead, Rashaad Penny, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert combined to turn 44 carries into 253, a rock-solid 5.8 average. The root of the Steelers’ problems lie on the second level, where Mark Barron has continued to flail badly on the inside. Barron hasn’t made a positive impact anywhere in years, and he’s remained a massive liability in Pittsburgh. Frequently out of position and shaky as a tackler, Barron could find himself benched as soon as Vince Williams returns to health. Rookie Devin Bush is an athletic blur and extremely promising - he’s registered 37 tackles thus far, 3 for losses - but has been predictably up-and-down, suffering a few lapses per game. The team drafted safety Terrell Edmunds in last year’s first-round primarily as a dynamic helper in the box, and he’s coming around nicely in run support. But with all the Steelers’ athleticism upfront, he shouldn’t be needed as much as he is. All in all, this is no longer a unit to fear for fantasy purposes. Runners with good cutback ability have several spots to exploit, turning short and solid gains into big ones - and big, efficient stat lines.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The entire Carolina offense ran through Christian McCaffrey last week--and rightfully so, as he has looked spectacular through this first quarter of the season. He saw a season-high 27 rushing attempts for 93 yards and a touchdown last week. This was in addition to very heavy continued usage in the passing game. McCaffrey is now averaging just over 100 rushing yards and 21.5 carries per game with four rushing touchdowns to start the season. McCaffrey has shown freakish athletic ability as he makes quick cuts combined with strong physicality to make defenders miss and plow through them at will. No other running back on this roster is even a remote threat to his productivity, and until Cam Newton returns to the field (will not be in Week 5), McCaffrey’s touchdown upside around the goal line is through the roof. He may be running behind a partially banged-up offensive line, however, as right guard Trai Turner missed last week with an ankle injury and remains questionable coming into this week. Tackle Daryl Williams filled in for Turner at guard and did a decent job, while Greg Little made his first start at left tackle and handled it well. This remains an average offensive line even without Turner, with the upside to move into the top-third if Turner can return.

The Jaguars have been tough on running backs, giving up the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game (non-PPR) on the season while limiting opposing backfields to an average of just 63 rushing yards per game in the past two weeks. Calais Campbell continues to wreak havoc on opposing linemen and will anchor this group. Marcell Dareus, on the other hand, has performed below expectations as he has battled with an elbow injury to start the season. Campbell has the ability to carry this group, however, and his elite play can mask temporary struggles by other talented players like Dareus. The linebacker group continues to play decent, while Jaguars defensive backs are stepping up to help contain the edges. While the Jaguars should have the advantage in the trenches, Christian McCaffrey retains the advantage in the open field and should still have a good shot at solid production here.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Bears rushing offense so far this year has been disappointing. Part of the blame has been the offensive line and missing key offensive guard Kyle Long who missed last week with a hip injury. The other part of this is that this is a unit that has struggled to find an identity as rookie David Montgomery does not appear ready to carry the full load, but the team is committed to him as he has seen an average of 17 carries per game over the last three weeks and is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on the season. Tarik Cohen’s volume this year has dipped to seeing an average of four carries per game and is averaging just 2.1 yards per carry so far this season compared to last year’s 4.5 yards per carry. There is hope for this unit as the defenses that they have faced so far this season outside of the Redskins have been difficult in the Packers, Vikings, and Broncos. This is a team that will improve throughout the season, but for now, expect this to be a matchup-based offense.

The Raiders suffered a significant blow to their rushing defense this past week as Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the rest of the season for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Jack Doyle. Burfict was the key cog in the Raiders rushing defense and as the player who called the defensive signals will have a major impact on the Raiders already thin defense. Making matters worse, defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell looks like he might miss this game with a concussion, Ferrell who was the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft has struggled with consistency for most of the year but was improving before the concussion last week. Overall on the season, this is a unit that has struggled with consistency as they shut down the Colts last week and the Chiefs in week 2, but struggled against Denver and Minnesota. While this unit will see a negative impact without Burfict, it is likely still a middle of the road defense.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The committee backfield in Denver continued last week as Phillip Lindsay rushed nine times for 53 yards while Royce Freeman rushed six times for 16 yards. Overall, it was the lowest volume rushing game for the Broncos this season as neither Freeman nor Lindsay had much of a chance to get in a rhythm. Freeman’s longest run was just five yards, while Lindsay at least flourished with a 28-yarder that displayed his ability to make defenders miss in space. Lindsay was coming off a 21-carry game in Week 3, so this drop to a season-low nine rushing attempts is disappointing for his outlook. However, it was known since Week 1 that this would be a full-blown committee backfield. While Lindsay has led the team in rushing attempts in all four weeks, Freeman remains an integral piece in this rushing offense. Their offensive line did play better last week, but the run blocking was just average at best against a stout Jaguars interior defense. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James is still out with a knee injury, which does put the group at a disadvantage and will continue to do so until he can return.

The Chargers defense has looked great against the run in recent weeks, limiting opposing running backs to just 59 rushing yards per game since Week 2 (fifth-fewest). While last week was a bit of an outlier against the terrible Dolphins offense, the Chargers shut down what has been a proficient Lions ground game in Week 2 while limiting Carlos Hyde to just 19 rushing yards on 10 carries in Week 3. This defensive line will be worse in Week 5, however, as Melvin Ingram is expected to miss time from a hamstring injury that sidelined him from most of last week’s game. Depth on this defensive line is questionable, especially with the rookie Jerry Tillery taking a while to get up to speed. Middle linebacker Denzel Perryman also missed time last week as he was tested for a concussion. Perryman will be good to go this week, but he has played terribly in his 1.5 games of limited action this season. With Ingram out, key contributors on this front seven will need to step it up to maintain what should be an advantage over the Broncos offensive line.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

True to coach Matt LaFleur’s word, Aaron Jones has indeed shared the Green Bay backfield fairly evenly with Jamaal Williams. But in the short term, with Williams likely sidelined due to a scary head injury, Jones has all the makings of a bell cow. Williams left last Thursday’s game on the opening play, and no running back but Jones took a touch (or even a snap) for the rest of the night. The team would certainly call up a depth body - likely rookie Dexter Williams, who had a shaky camp at best - if Jamaal couldn’t go. But Jones would thoroughly dominate the backfield, looking to improve upon his sluggish 3.3-yard average. Jones rolled over the Vikings in Week 2 for 116 yards, but has managed just 79 in the other 3 weeks. Schedule has played a role, but the lack of efficiency has been frustrating; Jones’ struggles with the finer points of the position were what kept him locked in a timeshare originally. His line remains one of the best run-blocking units in football, though they will miss right tackle Bryan Bulaga if he indeed misses time. There’s plenty of opportunity for Jones to be productive as the backfield dominator, and plenty of factors in his favor. He’s always been a risky proposition, though, to keep up his focus and fundamentals.

The Cowboys field a fairly average run defense, currently ranking 12th on a per-game basis bit 21st per carry. They’ve taken care of the soft parts of the schedule thus far, smothering the bottom-rung ground attacks of Washington (32 yards) and Miami (55). But Saquon Barkley (11 for 120) and Alvin Kamara (17 for 69) found plenty of success in their matchups. Last week, the Cowboys forced Kamara to grind for every tough yard, but he and the Saints’ front line did just enough to be effective. They took advantage of a banged-up Dallas front seven to win the trenches and chew up clock. To stem the bleeding, the team needs back at least one of its run-stuffing tackles, though both Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford look murky for Week 5. They also need better work from linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, so phenomenal as a rookie but struggling mightily to open 2019. Vander Esch (and teammate Jaylon Smith) have blown assignments and whiffed on key tackles throughout the year. Their speed and athleticism lose value when they’re out of position so often, and safeties Jeff Heath and Darian Thompson are subpar in support. The Packers’ stout line should have little trouble opening up lanes for Aaron Jones on Sunday, and he’s a particularly dangerous athlete for this shaky group to have to corral.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Minnesota Vikings have opened the season with one of the toughest schedules out there, especially with regards to the run defenses they have faced. Two of their four games have come against elite NFC North run defenses in the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. Minnesota's offensive trademark this season is an exceptionally run-heavy approach that comes from the top down. Personnel on the coaching staff, namely offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, have been given explicit directions to make Minnesota one of the most-efficient and most-utilized run offenses in the NFL. Ultimately, this load is carried by running back Dalvin Cook. Cook is approaching bell-cow status in Minnesota's offense, but rookie Alexander Mattison will spell him at times. Dalvin Cook has surpassed 100-yards rushing in both of the Vikings' victories this season, in large part thanks to the sheer volume of this rushing attack. Through four games, Minnesota ranks second in rushing yards in the NFL behind only the Baltimore Ravens. The Vikings' offensive line is league-average as a run-blocking unit, which is far better than its performance in pass protection. In this week five game that the betting markets expect Minnesota to win, expect the Vikings to lean heavily upon the running game to secure their first road victory of the season.

Defensively, the Giants stack up as an average run defense. Through four games, New York has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, although on two separate occasions opposing teams utilized multiple running backs that combined to eclipse 100-yards on the day. New York's defense is strong up-front, but behind a formidable defensive line, there is much to be desired, aside from Antoine Bethea. On the interior of the defensive line, the Giants rotate three strong run-stoppers in and out of the game. B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence each have proven to be capable of holding their own in run-stopping duties. At linebacker, however, Ryan Connelly and Alec Ogletree struggle mightily in run support. Connelly's performance to this point in 2019 has been poor in all aspects of the game, but Ogletree specifically thrives when he can utilize his athleticism in coverage duties. In the secondary, Antoine Bethea has made a career out of being one of the most physical safeties in the NFL. Now 35-years old, Bethea still excels in run support as the team's second-leading tackler. Perhaps even more impressive, Bethea has yet to miss a tackle in 2019, making him a reliable piece of a run defense that sits right in the middle of the pack in the NFL standings. The Giants' run defense will be put to the test in week five by one of the most run-heavy offenses the NFL has seen in recent years. If the Vikings get out to a lead in this game, the volume for the rushing attack will likely trump any efficiency worries, and the Giants defense does not instill fear in its opponents in 2019.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The 49ers get some great news this week as Tevin Coleman might return from a high ankle sprain that has plagued him since the first game of the season. With Coleman returning, the 49ers will continue to utilize the running back by committee approach with Coleman sharing time with Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. Breida should continue to see the highest volume of carries as he is averaging 13.7 carries per game compared 11 for Mostert and just 6 for Jeff Wilson Jr. who was filling in for Coleman. This is a scenario in which we still need to wait and see how it is going to play out, but at least short-term it will remain Breida who has been fantastic this season averaging 5.5 yards per carry and showing big-play potential each time he touches the ball.

The Browns defensive line is a unit that has come into the year with high expectations and while they have not been a shutdown unit so far this season, they have been solid. Led by Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson, this is a team that has faced some of the best pure runners in the NFL the first four weeks in Derrick Henry, Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell and Mark Ingram and for the most part has held their own holding these rushing attacks to just 66 yards per game and one touchdown. This is a unit if you can get past the defensive line there is success to be had as the loss of Christian Kirksey at linebacker along with Morgan Burnett who is an excellent run defender potentially could create some issues. With Kirksey out, this has forced Mack Wilson into seeing a heavy workload to stop the run which has been a weak-point that the 49ers may look to exploit.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Titans offense took a run-heavy approach with a favorable game script in last week’s big win over the Falcons. Derrick Henry saw a season-high 27 carries for his first triple-digit rushing yardage game of the season with 100 yards. He was held out of the end zone for the first time this year, but Henry remains the top option in this Titans rushing offense. Dion Lewis saw just four carries and has yet to come anywhere close to Henry in productivity or workload. Marcus Mariota remains dangerous on the ground, however, as last week marked his fourth straight game with at least 22 rushing yards. This offensive line will get a massive boost in Week 5 as left tackle Taylor Lewan returns from suspension. This will allow them the flexibility to shift Dennis Kelly around, possibly even to right guard if Jamil Douglas continues to struggle and rookie Nate Davis is unable to pick things up quickly.

The Bills defense put up a strong showing against the Patriots last week. This front seven limited Sony Michel to 3.7 yards per attempt for 63 total yards. Ed Oliver and Star Lotuleilei held up well last week despite being without the rotational depth offered from Harrison Phillips, who is out for the season. As a unit, this group has given up between 60-63 rushing yards to lead backs in three of four games with one big game of 107 rushing yards allowed to Saquon Barkley in Week 2. They are statistically above average and do have some talent on paper. However, this Bills defense has yet to be tested by a proficient run-blocking offensive line, as none of the four offensive lines they have faced rank above average according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys. While the Titans also fall into that slightly below average category, this offensive line has actually been solid in the run-blocking department and will be boosted with Taylor Lewan back this week. This should be a close matchup in the trenches and one that doesn’t offer a significant advantage to either team.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Falcons rushing game so far this season has been one of the biggest disappointments this season mostly due to the offensive line, negative game scripts and the schedule. Regarding the offensive line, this was a unit that had high expectations heading into the season led by six-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack and 2018 Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Matthews. Both players are off to a slow start this season as the entire team seems to be struggling with new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s system. Mack is questionable to play this week with an elbow injury and if he is unable to go it would be a significant loss for this offensive line that is still trying to find an identity. Devonta Freeman is averaging just 39 yards per game as he is a volume-based running back and we saw him have success in the close loss to the Indianapolis Colts in which he carried the ball 16 times for 88 yards, but in the other three games, he failed to have more than 12 carries for 28 yards. Part of this blame can be put on the schedule as the team has faced three of the best run defenses in football in Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Tennessee, so the schedule should get easier from here on out.

Houston’s rushing defense has been one of the best units in football so far this season as they have been tested every week this year facing Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, Austin Ekeler, and Christian McCaffrey and held those four opponents to an average of 68 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. This run defense’s backbone so far this season has been space-eater D.J. Reader who at the moment is playing some of the best football of any defensive tackle in the NFL. Reader has been dominant accounting for 15 tackles so far this season for a defensive tackle which is outstanding as the 6’3’’ 330-pound tackle may be a nightmare for the Falcons if Alex Mack were to miss this game. At the linebacker position, the Texans are solid with two above-average middle linebackers in Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney. All while All-Pro J.J. Watt remains dominant as he shifts around the defensive line to cause matchup issues for the opposing defense. The Falcons have their hands full in this one, but this is a game in which Ito Smith could be useful outside the tackles.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Frank Gore had a spectacular game in Week 4 as he crossed the 15,000 rushing yard mark with 109 yards from 17 carries. No other running back had a carry in last week’s loss. Gore has now averaged just under 17 carries and 85 rushing yards per game with two rushing touchdowns in the past three weeks since Devin Singletary was injured in Week 2. Singletary was a limited participant in practice last week and has a chance at returning in Week 5. If Singletary does suit up, he cannot necessarily be penciled in as the clear lead back based on what Gore has shown over the past few weeks. This will likely be more of a committee at least until the rookie Singletary has a chance to really show what he can handle. With what Gore did against the tough Patriots defense last week, he has clearly proven his capability to lead this backfield when and if needed. Josh Allen also continues to serve as a threat with his legs, averaging just over 32 rushing yards per game with three rushing touchdowns. His health will be in question this week, but if on the field, he certainly adds to the upside of this rushing offense. The Bills offensive line has also been quite cohesive and played well in recent weeks, so both Gore and Singletary should be in a good spot running behind what is an above-average group of run blockers.

The Titans run defense avoided the big play last week as they held Falcons running backs to just 39 rushing yards and a lone goal-line touchdown run. Subtract three big runs, and this team would be a top-ranked run defense on paper. Jurrell Casey and DaQuon Jones have both been extremely impressive on the interior and are huge advantages for this run defense. Safety Kenny Vaccaro has had a slow start to the season, but he came up big against the run last week with an impressive stop on fourth down. Kevin Byard is the dominant run-defending safety for the Titans, while linebacker Rashaan Evans has shown significant improvements in run defense since last season. This Titans defensive line should have the advantage in the trenches while this run defense overall should make it difficult for Frank Gore to continue turning back the clocks with another dominant performance.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Browns bounced back admirably as Nick Chubb had the best day of his career rushing for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Chubb was clocked in at 21.95 MPH on his 88-yard touchdown run this past Sunday as the Browns continue to establish the run with Freddie Kitchens’ offense. Chubb has now run for 78 carries on the season which is the second-most in the NFL this season. If there is one fault on the offensive line it continues to be right guard Eric Kush who has struggled while trying to fill in for the traded Kevin Zeitler. This offensive line continues to be led by Pro Bowler Joel Bitonio and center J.C. Tretter both of whom have been the focus of the rushing attack for Cleveland this season. This is a unit that will continue to be a focal point and Chubb is the clear number one running back on this team with no one to take carries away from him at least for the next few weeks before Kareem Hunt likely gets some involvement.

The 49ers rushing defense is a unit that has continued the improvement that we saw last season and their acquisition of Kwon Alexander is paying off tremendously. This is a unit that is allowing just 3.4 yards per carry and has shut down both Joe Mixon and James Conner over the last two weeks. The backbone of this defense is their defensive line, led by DeForest Bucker, Arik Armstead, and number one overall pick Nick Bosa, this is a unit that is piling up the tackles including 10 for Buckner against Pittsburgh. This is a team that is building itself very similarly to the Rams in having an elite defensive line, but they are taking it even one step further with Kwon Alexander which was something that the Rams were missing when playing the Browns in attempting to shut down Nick Chubb. This will likely be the most difficult matchup that the Browns have so far this season against the run.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

A heavy workload for Leonard Fournette finally paid off last week as Fournette exploded for 225 rushing yards from 29 carries against the Broncos. He busted off an 81-yard long run to highlight a second half filled with chunk gains against a worn-down Broncos defense. Fournette had just 179 rushing yards in total through Week 3, so this outburst was really out of nowhere considering his dismal showings thus far. Fournette was averaging just under 15 rushes per game before being handed 29 rushing attempts last week. While he shouldn’t be expected to repeat that workload or productivity, Fournette has basically no competition for touches in an offense that has shown to be competent through the air with Gardner Minshew under center. With defenses actually respecting the pass, Fournette should continue to have a decent opportunity for success. The Jaguars offensive line naturally had a good showing as well. Despite the emotions flying around with left tackle Cam Robinson late in last week’s game, he performed well and looks to be recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him through Week 2 and kept him limited in Week 3. This is an above-average offensive line with Robinson in there.

The Panthers have some impressive talent within their defensive front seven, but it has yet to translate into equally impressive success on paper against the run this season. They have given up the tenth-most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs through the first four games despite having faced four average-at-best offensive lines. The past two weeks have been encouraging as they did a decent job limiting the Texans running backs while shutting down the Cardinals in Week 3. Linebackers continue to be a strength while they have solid depth on the interior to cover for the absence of Kawaan Short. If Short can make his way back on the field this week, this group will be in an even better spot. Regardless of what the stat sheet has said, this run defense looks great and should make it tough on Fournette to come anywhere near his Week 4 explosion.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

After an impressive showing in week one against the Carolina Panthers, the Los Angeles Rams have struggled to get anything going on the ground whatsoever. Much was made of Todd Gurley entering the season and whether or not his knee was fully-healthy in 2019. Through four games, he appears to be a lesser version of the Todd Gurley that lit the world on fire in the first half of the 2018 season. While he is still a serviceable NFL running back, he may no longer be elite, but his struggles have been exacerbated by arguably the worst run-blocking offensive line in the entire league. The Rams lost two key starters along the offensive line during the offseason, and two other returning starters have been bullied consistently in the trenches to start 2019. Aging All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth has been the lone bright spot along the offensive line, but he cannot make up for the struggles at the other four positions. After one month of the season, the Rams have yet to have a 100-yard rusher. Following a 97-yard performance from Gurley in week one, no Rams running back has mustered a mere 64-yard performance since. No matter what offensive genius head coach Sean McVay comes up with, it will be challenging to mask the issues Los Angeles has along the offensive line, and this rushing attack will continue to struggle until they improve dramatically up-front.

Seattle's run defense ranks amongst the best in the NFL after four games this season. The Seahawks have yet to allow an opposing running back to rush for 70-yards or more against them so far this season, and this is in large part thanks to the team's exceptional pair of linebackers. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, both former Pro-Bowlers, have been excellent in run-support thus far in 2019. Bobby Wagner has been one of the league's best run-stoppers for years now. His calling card is his unmatched ability to read plays and fill holes, as shown by his ranking near the top of the leaderboards in run-stops in practically every year of his career. K.J. Wright has taken his game to a new level in 2019. While Wright has always been a capable run-stopping linebacker, he is reaching new heights over the first four weeks of this season, as he has yet to miss a tackle. Ezekiel Ansah's return to the starting lineup in recent weeks has bolstered an already strong defensive line featuring Jadeveon Clowney, one of the league's most-feared edge rushers and run-stoppers. Seattle's defense has exceeded all expectations through the first month of the season, and this does not shape up to be a good matchup for Todd Gurley and the Rams to rectify their issues with the ground game.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

In the Saquon Barkley's first game watching from the sidelines in his young NFL career, he saw Wayne Gallman carry the football 18 times as the Giants' primary running back. Gallman, however, got nowhere near Barkley's bell-cow status in the offense, as he was only on the field for 60-percent of snaps. Jon Hillman spelled Gallman regularly throughout the game, carrying the ball 10 times himself while playing 35-percent of the team's offensive snaps. Each running back put the ball on the ground once throughout the game, with the Giants falling on top of Gallman's fumble, but failing to do so for Hillman. Gallman was also only slightly more efficient, running for 3.5 yards-per-carry on the day to Hillman's 3.3 yards-per-carry. Wayne Gallman is clearly the team's number one back, but do not let the two-touchdown performance (one rushing) distort this backfield: Gallman is not in the same bell-cow role that Barkley has vacated while healing a sprained ankle. The Giants' offensive line has been adequate, but not impressive thus far in 2019, and a matchup with Minnesota's defensive front will be a difficult one for New York. There is a small chance that Saquon Barkley does return this week, although that does still seem somewhat unlikely.

Minnesota's front-seven ranks amongst the best in the NFL at stopping the run. Along the defensive line, both edge rushers, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, are above average at stopping the run. Additionally, Linval Joseph has kept up his reputation as one of the league's best interior run-stoppers. Joseph excels at clogging running lanes on the inside, which allows for Minnesota's exceptional linebacking corps to make plays against the run. Eric Kendricks stands out as a player who has always been strong defending the run, but in 2019 he has been elite. Kendricks has already made 18 run-stops on the season, and one of his running mates, Eric Wilson, has contributed 6 run-stops of his own in approximately half the snaps. Aside from week two against the Green Bay Packers, this bevy of run-stopping talent has excelled at shutting down opposing running backs. The Vikings held two of the most-hyped running backs in the 2019 rookie class (David Montgomery and Josh Jacobs) to just 53 and 44 rushing yards, respectively. Neither rookie topped 4.5 yards-per-carry, while Devonta Freeman mustered only over 2 yards-per-carry in the season opener against the Vikings. The New York Giants will have their work cut out for themselves on the ground against Minnesota here in week five. Wayne Gallman and Jon Hillman pale in comparison to Saquon Barkley, and neither was particularly impressive against a far weaker Washington Redskins run defense in week four. Expect a long day at the office for Giants running backs when they play host to the Vikings this weekend.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Philadelphia's running-back-by-committee approach continued in week four against the Green Bay Packers, and it likely will throughout the regular season, health permitting. While Darren Sproles has gradually been phased out of the offense (he was on the field for only 11-percent of week four snaps,) Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are still splitting time in Philadelphia's backfield. Howard's role in Philadelphia's offense has grown since week one, while Sanders' role has remained relatively consistent. Week four's victory over the Green Bay Packers was the second straight game where both Sanders and Howard reached double-digit carries. Philadelphia's offense to start the season has been surprisingly run-heavy as a whole. Neither Howard nor Sanders has separated themselves as a potential bell-cow running back for the Eagles, but whoever runs behind their elite offensive line will have plenty of opportunity to produce.

The New York Jets have opened the season as one of the league's better run defenses in 2019. In the midst of an 0-3 start, the Jets have trailed for the majority of the season thus far. The Gregg Williams' front-seven has held up their end of the bargain against some run-heavy offenses throughout the first month of the year. The Jets have invested in their defensive line very heavily in recent years. After drafting Leonard Williams with the sixth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, they signed Steve McLendon via free agency the following offseason. In this most recent draft, the Jets drafted the player some viewed as the top overall talent in the entire draft; former-Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Williams has missed some time with a hamstring injury, but he is poised to return to the starting lineup in week five and bolster an already strong defensive front. New York's safeties, Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams, love to come down and help in run support as two of the more well-rounded safeties in the NFL. Over the first three games of the season, the New York Jets have only allowed 3.6 yards-per-carry, and this matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles' strong offensive line will test them once again in week five.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Running back, Chris Carson struggled in weeks two and three with ball security issues. Over those two games, Carson coughed the ball up three times, and many were worried his starting job would be in jeopardy. However, as Carson's backup, Rashaad Penny, suffered a hamstring injury in practice two weeks ago, there has been no viable candidate to take Carson's place in the starting lineup. Carson responded well to the criticism in week four with a 104-yard performance on the ground where he consistently made Cardinals' defenders miss in open space to gain extra yardage. In Seattle's run-heavy offense, ball security is paramount, and should Carson cough the ball up on Thursday night, Rashaad Penny, who is on track to play in week five, may assume the bulk of the action in Seattle's backfield. Otherwise, expect a heavy dose of Chris Carson running behind a strong run-blocking offensive line against Los Angeles in a battle of strength against strength with the Rams' front seven.

The Los Angeles Rams have one of the most talented defensive fronts in the entire NFL. Anchored by Aaron Donald, arguably the best player in the NFL, the Rams' defensive line is one of the most disruptive in the league both against the run and the pass. Alongside Donald, Michael Brockers is an excellent run-stopping defensive tackle. Behind them, at the linebacker position, Corey Littleton has struggled thus far in 2019 to stop the run, but Clay Matthews has picked up his slack. Matthews has moved back out to his natural edge-rushing position and with this change, he is tied for the most run-stops on the Rams roster with 10. Safety Eric Weddle sits atop the Rams leaderboard with 10 run stops of his own. Weddle, one of the smartest and most hard-nosed safeties in the NFL, has always been one of the better run-stopping defensive backs in the NFL. Somehow, in Weddle's 13th year in the NFL, he has not lost a step and still contributes across the board on defense, and he still tops the charts as one of the league's best safeties overall. Through the first month of the season, the Rams have only allowed 3.8 yards-per-carry. However, this matchup against one of the league's most run-heavy offenses will certainly put them to the test on a short week when they travel up to Seattle to face off with the division-rival Seahawks on Thursday Night Football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Redskins rushing attack remains non-existent after the loss of Derrius Guice to a right knee injury in Week 1. Adrian Peterson is averaging just 2.7 yards-per-carry and while not all of this is his fault, he does not appear to have the burst that he once had as he does not have a carry-over 10 yards on the year. The biggest problem for Washington remains the offensive line as they lost their leader in Trent Williams who remains a hold-out and the right side of this offensive line is in rough shape as rookie Wes Martin looks overmatched as he is filling in for Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses is also in the midst of the worst season of his career. This is a team that at 0-4 is struggling to find an identity.

The Patriots defense so far this season is a tough one to figure out as their first three weeks they played opponents who were a combined 1-10 and had not allowed a running back to rush for over 35 yards which was Le’Veon Bell who did this on 18 carries. Then last week, Frank Gore runs for 109 yards against this defense that to date had only allowed 101 yards combined against every running back that they have faced. The issue can be summed up simply by the loss of middle linebacker D’Onta Hightower who was a limited participant this past week after leaving the game early last week and Ja’Whaun Bentley was forced to step in and struggled at stopping Gore. This remains a defense that is one of the best as Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, and Kyle Van Noy solidify this defensive line and are all playing at Pro Bowl levels. Their job essentially is to eat space to allow the linebackers to clean up the tackles. With all of the offensive line issues for the Redskins, this should be a game that the Patriots get back to their run-stopping ways.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Wisely, the Saints have all but handed their running game over to the always-explosive Alvin Kamara. Mark Ingram is gone, and Latavius Murray (66 yards through 4 games) hasn’t come close to filling his shoes as Kamara’s complement. The third-year star is often typecast as a scatback, but is actually one of football’s toughest tackles on the interior, eluding and pinballing off of would-be tacklers. That’s been a godsend for the Saints, who now win (or lose) with a grinding, ball-control attack. On Sunday night, Kamara consistently kept the chains moving and iced the win down the stretch. He’s the clear-cut offensive focus, and every week he benefits from working behind arguably the league’s best front line. (Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti currently ranks it first, with an A+ run-blocking grade.) The Saints trot out mauling blockers from tackle to tackle, routinely opening lanes that allow Kamara to turn three-yard runs into chunk gains. Given Kamara’s usage and effectiveness, there’s no reason to doubt him in any matchup or game script.

For the fourth time in as many weeks, the vastly-improved Tampa Bay run defense smothered a quality running game. They’ve opened the year against Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, and Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers, yet have allowed running backs an anemic 2.8 yards per attempt and 48 a game. Enough cannot be said about the early play of nose tackle Vita Vea, who is clogging the inside lanes on an All-Pro level. He pairs with Ndamukong Suh to make it easier for the linebackers, Lavonte David and Kevin Minter, to pursue and strike in the gap. Minter’s strong play has kept the team from missing top pick Devin White, who’s still recovering from a knee sprain, too badly. The Buccaneers also get quality help in the box from their secondary, and thus far, none of the talented backs they’ve faced has broken a run of more than 18 yards. After four dominant performances, it’s safe to label this a troublesome fantasy matchup. Even behind his stout line, Alvin Kamara will have to create space on his own to produce Sunday.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Jets Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The New York Jets made a big splash in free agency by paying Le'Veon Bell a sum of money that many would say was ill-advised. Through three games in the 2019 season, this investment has yielded very little in on-field production for the Jets. New York is trying to get their money's worth with Bell in the backfield by giving him at least 17 carries in every game so far this season. Those carries, however, have resulted in very little offensive production. Bell averages just 2.91 yards-per-carry this season, and he has yet to top 68 yards in a single game in a Jets' jersey. The blame does not rest solely on Bell's shoulders, however, as the Jets have trailed for almost the entire season thus far, which makes running the football especially difficult. The Jets' offensive line also ranks as one of the league's worst units at creating lanes to run through. Even as the bell-cow in the New York Jets' backfield, Le'Veon Bell has struggled to produce on the ground so far in 2019, and a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles does not bode well for his prospects in the short-term.

The Philadelphia Eagles run defense is one of the best in the NFL, as defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has established an identity for his unit in the 2019 season. The Eagles field multiple Pro Bowlers in their front-seven and this group led by Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox imposes its will on opposing offensive lines with regularity. The offseason addition of Zach Brown at linebacker has paid dividends in recent weeks, as he has missed just one tackle over the first month of the season. One of the most surprising statistics over the first four weeks of the season is that the Eagles have yet to allow an opposing starting running back to run for more than 2.0 yards-per-carry in a game this season. The most efficient performance against Philadelphia's run defense was turned in by Devonta Freeman in week two. Freeman, in a 24-20 Falcons' victory, ran for just 22 yards on his 11 carries throughout the game. The highest yardage total for an opposing starter was Kerryon Johnson's 36 yards on 20 carries in a week three victory over the Eagles. Philadelphia's run defense ranks amongst the league's best and the Eagles' front-seven will likely dominate the Jets' horrid offensive line here in week five.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Raiders' rushing offense this season has been one of the bright spots of this offense. Josh Jacobs has looked fantastic averaging 5.0 yards per carry so far this season and the only issue for the running back has been volume in the games that they were blown out by Minnesota and Kansas City. In the team’s two wins, Jacobs has averaged 20 carries as the team relies on center Dakota Hudson to lead the way along with left guard Richie Incognito to stabilize this rushing attack. Jalen Richard continues to be a non-factor as he has just nine carries on the season and DeAndre Washington has largely been ineffective averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. This will likely remain a game script dependent offense as in the two losses this season, the Raiders have all but abandoned the run as Jacobs averaged just 11 carries in these contests.

The Bears rushing defense continues to be one of the league’s best. The Bears bottled up Dalvin Cook and have only allowed one running back to rush for over 50 yards which was Royce Freeman in week 2 as the Bears defense gassed out in Mile High late in the game. The Bears will get Roquan Smith back after what seemed to be some personal issues that kept him out last week which will be a significant help for the Bears as Smith uses his speed to fly all over the field. It also appears that the Bears will get back Akiem Hicks who was close to playing last Sunday against Minnesota with a knee injury. This is a unit that may have the best defensive line in football with Hicks, Khalil Mack, Nick Williams, and space-eating nose tackle Eddie Goldman. This will be a long day for the Raiders and Josh Jacobs.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Week after week, Ronald Jones gains more separation as the Buccaneers’ lead back. It makes sense: Jones is a much more gifted runner and playmaker than Peyton Barber, and a better fit in the Buccaneers’ wide-open attack. On the year, Jones has turned his 50 attempts into a 4.7-yard average, while Barber has plodded to just 3.4 on his 53. Jones has run with speed and purpose throughout the young season, and the Tampa Bay line has improved by leaps and bounds in the run game. Still, in a tandem, neither back carries much week-winning upside. The Buccaneers are a decidedly pass-first team, as Bruce Arians’ offenses have virtually always been. That even holds true near the goal line: through four games, Jones and Barber have combined to take just three carries from inside the five. As the starter, Jones deserves some fantasy attention as an arm of such a powerful offense, but there’s a hard ceiling in place.

The Saints run defense shakily opened the year, giving up efficient days on the ground to both the Texans and Rams. But by now, they may have found their groove. Over the past 2 weeks, they’ve shut down two strong ground attacks in Seattle (58 yards on 19 carries by running backs) and Dallas (35 on 18). This unit, more or less intact for the past few years, has now gone 30 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Safety Vonn Bell, in particular, has developed into an underrated star in run support. The speedy, instinctive Bell consistently makes plays in the box, functioning as a missile of a third linebacker in run situations. Others on the second level, such as Demario Davis and A.J. Klein, lack consistency but make their share of impact plays. As a result, game-long efficiency isn’t easy to come by for opposing runners. Over this 30-game span, they’ve put the clamps on runners such as Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley. That daunting group has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in this matchup.

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